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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Group Category Details: A - (see Notes)
  • Date Added: 14/12/1970
  • Supplementary Information Updated: 23/12/2009


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 24096 73579
  • Coordinates324096, 673579


Song School designed by John Oldrid Scott 1881, built by Robert Rowand Anderson 1888-1892; with murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair, 1888 - 92. Walpole Hall, Lorimer and Matthew, 1933. Halls linked at SW corner by single storey corridor block (circa 1933). Later flat roofed single storey addition at E. Set on site adjacent to St Mary's Cathedral.

SONG SCHOOL: single storey rectangular-plan Scots Baronial church hall. Squared and snecked sandstone; low stone buttresses. Moulded string course, stepped to become cill course at windows. Crow stepped gables; twin gables breaking wallhead to N elevation; single gable to S. Steeply pitched roof and small louvered and slated fleche to centre. Prominent stone transomed and mullioned windows, with sandstone ashlar cills, lintels and rybats. INTERIOR: small entrance vestibule leading to large barrel-vaulted hall, library to S. Additional doorway to NE corner accessing small single storey block linking to Walpole Hall. MURALS: on the theme of the Benedictine, predominantly in red and blue. Choir and clergy, Pentecost and Christ's empty tomb. To E wall. Verses from the canticles and portraits of Traquair's contempories (D.G. Rossetti, W. Holman-Hunt, G.F. Watts) to S wall. Choristers and birds singing together and panel of eminent figures in history such as Dante and Blake to N. Four beasts and seraphs singing Sanctus to W.

WALPOLE HALL: single storey, 4-bay, rectangular-plan hall. Squared and snecked sandstone. Corniced eaves course to E and W elevations. Low wallhead broken by tall shaped dormers. Additional lower curved gable to S elevation. Single storey porch to N gable with moulded surround and carved relief panel; oculus above with moulded keystoned surround. INTERIOR: small entrance vestibule to Chester Street leading to large barrel vaulted hall. Plain interior with timber floor and panelled timber dado. Raised stage to S, flanking doors with small glazed panels leading to further rooms to rear (S) of building; top lit corridor to left. Additional entrance to rear at right giving access to small single storey block linking to Song School and to exterior.

Predominantly timber sash and case windows throughout with large 9 over 15-pane windows to dormers at Walpole Hall. Steep pitched roofs; grey slates. Tall shaped and buttressed chimneystack with modern clay cans to S elevation of Song School. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Special Interest

The Song School and Walpole Hall are important ancillary structures to St. Mary's Cathedral and the murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair are considered outstanding examples of her work. The Song School is representative of the work of John Oldrid Scott (son of GG Scott) and R R Anderson (former assistant to GG Scott) who executed the project to Scott's designs. Walpole Hall is a good example of the work of Lorimer and Matthew. Probably executed by John Matthew. Both buildings are of high quality in design and execution and respond to their site alongside St. Mary's Cathedral.

The murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair date from 1888 -1892 and are some of the earliest and best examples of her work. After completing the Song School murals she also worked with R R Anderson painting her most ambitious scheme at the Catholic Apostolic Church in East London Street, Edinburgh (1893 -1901) (see separate listing). Traquair was one of the most talented and renowned decorative artists of her time and is now considered to be an internationally important figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Initially inspired by medieval manuscripts she was also familiar with the work of D G Rossetti, John Ruskin and William Morris amongst others. By the 1900s, her attention had turned to applied art, enamelling jewellery.

(Category changed from B to A and list description revised 2009 as part of resurvey.)



Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan, (1893 -94). J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 366; Youngson, The Making of Classical Edinburgh, (1988) p. 215; RCAHMS broadsheet 13, Miles Glendinning, Alison Darragh, St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, A Short History and Guide, 2002; (accessed 13/5/2008); Country Life, Hubert Fenwick, Monumental but Not Romantic, 25.10.1979; Foskett, The Pictorial History of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh 1814 -1964, 1959; J.A. Shaw, In the end the beginning: an account of St. Mary's Cathedral Edinburgh 1814 - 1964, 1964. The Builder, 2nd April 1892.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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